Hola from Peru!

Traveling 4961 miles from Seattle, our group of 18 began the 2015 TMMBA International Study Tour today in Peru. The country is approximately the size of Alaska and has 28 different climates.

Our first visit is Lima, the capital city of nearly 10 million people and 43 neighborhoods. It’s the industrial and financial center of Peru.

We boarded a tour bus and enjoyed an afternoon city tour. Our first stop was Huaca Hullamarca, an ancient pyramid from AD 200 to 500. We were greeted by a Peruvian Hairless dog and saw a preserved mummy.

We then traveled to Lima’s historic center. The San Francisco Convent, rebuilt in 1672, was a highlight.

Part of our group in front of the San Francisco Church
Part of our group in front of the San Francisco Church

It’s a working monastery with 26 monks living there. We cooled off next to a lovely courtyard with walls decorated in colorful Spanish tiles, before we continued underground to the eerie catacombs of hundreds of bones and skulls.

We finished the day with a welcome dinner at the spectacular ruins of Huaca Pucllana.

Group Welcome Dinner
Group Welcome Dinner

Over the next few days, we’ll visit several companies ranging from one of the largest Peruvian consumer goods company to an e-commerce leader and the #1 startup in Peru. We’ll then fly to the city of Cusco and Machu Picchu, an ancient city in the Andes mountain range, the 2nd tallest in the world.

 

This will surely be a memorable week of meeting new people and developing a deeper understanding of how Peruvians live and conduct business.

The International Study Tour is an optional tour that takes place in the second year of the TMMBA Program. Students who participate broaden their business knowledge base and immerse in a different culture. This includes visiting companies, touring manufacturing facilities, and meeting business leaders and government officials.IMG_3023

TMMBA Alumni Profile: Rick McMaster (TMMBA 2006)

McMaster (TMMBA 2006) @ Vino at the Landing in Renton
McMaster (TMMBA 2006) @ Vino at the Landing in Renton

After competing in the UW Business Plan Competition and graduating from the Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) Program in 2006, Rick McMaster caught the entrepreneurship bug.  McMaster made an unconventional shift from a career in technology at Intel to pursuing his passion for the local Washington wine industry. Today McMaster has put his TMMBA skills to work and is the Owner and General Manager of the thriving Vino at the Landing in Renton.

What’s next for McMaster? In January 2015, he purchased a second location, Reds Wine Bar at Kent Station, and sees even more growth in his future. Much to the delight of McMaster’s patrons, more chardonnay, merlot and syrah possibly await! Read more about McMaster’s story below.

On Career

What is most rewarding about your job? What makes it all worthwhile?
I love the community atmosphere that we’ve established at Vino through great food, delicious wine, and wonderful service.  We have a lot of regular customers who patron Vino on a daily or weekly basis.  It’s great to know our customers on a personal level, learn about their personal lives, and know that Vino is the place that they go to relax and unwind.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career?
Growing Vino from a staff of 3 to 20 has been extremely challenging.  When we started there were no policies and procedures in place.  We now have an employee manual in place with a more disciplined performance management process.  Resourcing has also been challenging.  As we’ve grown it has been difficult figuring out when to hire and how many people to hire.  There is a lot of turnover in the restaurant industry so it’s also challenging to retain good employees.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
We were honored by the Renton Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Customer Service for 2012 and 2014.  And we were just recently honored by the Washington State Wine Commission with a Grand Award for our locally focused wine program.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My first boss at Cummins Engine, Mike Carney, was the biggest influence on my career.  He was a huge proponent of The 7 Habits and building highly effective teams.

What are you most excited or passionate about?
I am most excited about the personal development of my employees.  Most of my staff started at Vino in their early 20s.  It’s been wonderful to see them grow into management positions.

Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years?
I purchased a 2nd location, Reds Wine Bar at Kent Station in January 2015.  I’d love to open a 3rd location in the next 5-10 years.  I’ve also been working on a business plan for a cocktail bar and would love to open that concept in downtown Renton as part of the city revitalization efforts.

On TMMBA

What were your goals upon entering TMMBA?
I was working at Intel when I entered the program.  I had worked primarily in program management and had an engineering background.  I knew that I needed the business education if I ever wanted to advance my career at Intel.  I thought the TMMBA program would help me to achieve this.

How has TMMBA impacted your career?
There is no doubt that I never would have had this opportunity with Vino at the Landing & Reds Wine Bar without my experience in the TMMBA program.  As a small business owner, every part of the TMMBA program curriculum is used on a daily basis.

On Life

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m an avid golfer.  Vino opens at 11am so I’ve been known to get 18-27 holes in prior to opening.  My girlfriend is an avid runner and running coach so I see many 5K races in my future too.

Are you involved in any community organizations?
Vino contributes to many local charities including the Renton Clothes Bank and we are heavily involved in the Renton Chamber of Commerce.  I just began mentoring with the Renton School District.

Business book recommendation?
I’m going to go old school with this one… Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People.

 Read more TMMBA alumni profiles here.

TMMBA Mentoring Program

A conversation between a TMMBA alumnus and student is usually one of mutual understanding around career paths and aspirations.  It’s an easy genuine exchange.  In fall 2014, a TMMBA Mentoring Program launched and 44 TMMBA alumni (mentors) were paired with TMMBA students (mentees).

The beginning:
For mentors and mentees, it started at the Program Networking Night on the evening of September 30th.  The Eastside Executive Center, painted in Husky purple and gold, was dressed for the occasion.  Tall cocktail tables draped in black floor-length linens were positioned so that mentees and mentors could mingle and learn more about each other.

Students submitted their mentor preferences after the reception.

Who are the mentors?
The community of mentors is ambitious and generous.  They are respected business leaders from many industries, companies and functions from Consulting and Operations to Marketing, Data Analytics and Entrepreneurship.  As mentors, they offer specific feedback and encouragement on important MBA career and professional development areas.

How is the Program designed?
The program timeline for mentoring relationships extends from October 2014 to June 2015.  The expectation is for each pair to meet once per quarter (minimum) as well as be available for dialogue via e-mail and/or phone.  This provides at least three in-person meetings for mentees before graduation.

What are mentees saying?
Two students shared feedback on how their mentoring relationship has complimented their TMMBA experience and professional development.

I’ve been working for a big company for almost a decade now and for some time have thought about what it would be like to start something of my own.  While working for a big company has given me experiences that have helped polish and expand my technical skills, it has given me very little insight into what it would take to successfully run a company or even where to start.  Through conversations with my mentor, I’ve been able to get a perspective of what it takes to start a company from the point of view of someone with a background similar to mine, who has been successful at it, and who had similar questions and hesitations to those that I’ve been having.  Being able to ask questions and get honest and candid feedback has been a great compliment to the class lectures and discussions with classmates.

Another mentee said,

For one, I don’t think I would have been able to know my mentor if it wasn’t for the TMMBA program.  That alone is a great example of the benefits that come with the program.  Secondly, I feel that she is one person who I can trust and has a ton of credibility as an advisor in my professional development because of her accomplishments.  Her career progression somewhat overlaps with my own situation, and that is a big reason why I wanted her as my mentor.

In one of our conversations, she reminded me about the big picture of doing an MBA.  That has helped to reinforce a few things that I knew but tended to de-prioritize because of the everyday schedule. She provided some really good insights and perspectives.  She has also forced me to think more deeply about certain things.

I feel I am ready to work on a tangible action plan based on her feedback. I plan to share my work-in-progress with her in our next meeting, and we’ll go from there!

What’s next?
We’re gathering midpoint feedback and will highlight more perspectives, from mentees and mentors, in a future blog.  In summer 2015, we’ll hold Information Sessions for Class 15 to learn about the program design, timeline, and how to participate.

What would I do differently?

Mike McCarter, TMMBA Class of 2014
Mike McCarter, TMMBA Class of 2014

I always knew someone would ask me this question.   I’d supposed it would happen sometime after I graduated.   Or maybe the question would come from my children someday when I was old and gray– I certainly didn’t expect it in the last quarter of the program, but there it was.   The TMMBA Program Director, Tracy, asked the question;  “If you could do this whole MBA thing over again, what would you do differently?”

OK, so maybe she didn’t ask the question exactly like that.  She may have actually said something closer to “How’s it going?” or maybe just “Hi”.   Regardless of what had prompted Tracy’s inquiry that day in the hall, she deserved to know the answer that had plagued me for a solid month.

Here’s the background.  About a month earlier my team and I had set up a meeting with the executive director of a local non-profit to talk about a social media project.  We booked the meeting to occur a couple of hours ahead our Wednesday class session– and miraculously it finished up a bit early!   After treating myself to a second helping of taco buffet, I had found myself in the rare-yet-luxurious state of not having any plans.   I recall mingling in the buffet area for a while and then ambling into the Tech @ the Top room after hearing some mention of cheeseburgers in there.

Shortly after I found a seat, Tracy shut the door and introduced Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Network.   Then it all clicked for me.   Five minutes earlier I had been joking with this guy at the taco buffet, wondering if he was going to take the last chalupa, and now I find out he is a legendary entrepreneur?!  The next hour flew by like it was fifteen minutes.   I learned about how Ben had quit a perfectly good job to see if he could parlay a funny cat picture into an multimillion dollar internet humor juggernaut (spoiler alert:  he did it).   Ben gave a fast-paced presentation followed by a wide-open Q&A session.  I got an incredible view into the mind of a truly creative entrepreneur with a street MBA and a truckload of wisdom.  More importantly, I got to ask Ben as many questions as I wanted about being an entrepreneur and scaling a company, which is a topic that interests me greatly.

from icanhascheezburger.com

A few weeks went by and I still found myself reflecting on Ben’s presentation and several impactful things he had shared.  I figured this must have been an anomaly– of course they couldn’t all be that good, right?  I secretly hoped so, because I’d been ignoring Tech @ the Top emails for over a year.  With small kids at home, a demanding job, a couple side ventures and an MBA-in-progress, I felt like I couldn’t afford to take on anything else.   Nonetheless, when the next Tech @ the Top Speaker Series event came along there I was, privately hoping that Jens Molbak, founder of Coinstar, would flop and confirm my anomaly theory.

Of course Jens didn’t flop, he was brilliant.  I still don’t know how he crammed it all into one hour, but we learned how he started Coinstar as a secret project during his MBA.  Jens told us about how he had interviewed 1500 people in front of grocery stores to refine his idea.  We sensed Jen’s pain from the continuous rejection by VCs.   Then we learned about the eventual revelation that enabled him to not only get seed funding, but ultimately raise $200m in VC investment (hint: it wasn’t about selling his idea better).   In less than 10 years, Jens succeeded in taking Coinstar public, caused the Mint to stop making coins, and enabled the donation of millions of dollars to a litany of charitable organizations.    As with my prior Tech @ the Top experience, I was blown away by the openness and accessibility of this inspiring entrepreneur.

Tech @ the Top Speaker Series - Jens Molbak

So there it is.  Not the answer I’d expected it would be, but true nonetheless.  If I could do it over again, I would go to every single Tech @ the Top speaker.  The absurdity is that I was already there on Wednesdays anyway– how hard would it have been to forgo that extra trip to the buffet and open my mind to meeting a new entrepreneur or business leader?  I’ll never know, but what I do know is that I missed the opportunity to get direct learnings and close interaction with senior executives from Costco, Docusign, Concur, Outerwall, PCC, and many others.    Here’s my advice to future Foster MBA students:  skip that extra chalupa and go to Tech @ the Top!

Not to Miss Tips on the TMMBA Application

The September 1 Technology Management MBA application deadline is fast approaching! With that in mind, I want to share some really good tips on the application process that you might have missed in the TMMBA blog archives.

1. Preparing for the GMAT

Last year a TMMBA staff member took the GMAT so she could share her experience first-hand with applicants. To simulate the experiences that many applicants go through, she studied during non-work hours for less than two months and used many of the study techniques that we recommend at TMMBA.   Here’s a post from each week of preparation:

2. Tackle the Essays

As part of the TMMBA application, you are required to submit three essays, each 500 words or less.

  • Why have you decided to apply to the TMMBA Program? What are your career goals in the next 5 to 10 years and how will an MBA help you reach these goals?
  • In essay format, evaluate and describe your career using the four factors of the SWOT analysis framework.
  • Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity or potential? Describe the situation and the impact you had on a person, group or organization.

If you’re having a hard time getting started and are suffering from writer’s block, read our 5 Tips For Your TMMBA Essays.

If you’re not sure what a SWOT analysis is or how write one for your career, don’t miss this post: The SWOT Analysis Essay and the Four Questions We Are (Really) Asking.

3. Acing the Admissions Interview

The admissions interview is the final step in the process of applying to the TMMBA Program.  Our Program Director, Tracy Gojdics, has done a lot of these over the years (461 and counting!) and has learned a lot about interviewing and engaging with applicants. She wrote this post to shed light on the TMMBA interview approach and what you can expect.

Do you still have questions about putting together your best possible application? Check out these additional video tips and sign up for a TMMBA Application Workshop.   

Debunking the Myth: Marketing Redefined

How would you define marketing? For many people, they’d simply describe it as “it’s about cost, cost and (you guessed it …) more cost”. While TMMBA Professor, Natalie Mizik, acknowledges that spending is a factor that must be considered in marketing, the focus of her teaching and research challenges students to approach marketing in a much more integrated way.

TMMBA students embark on Mizik’s Strategic Marketing Management course in their 3rd quarter of the Program. She teaches marketing as a practical science that combines elements of other fundamental business courses – finance, statistics and economics to name a few. Students quickly learn that developing quantifiable and strategic marketing decisions is imperative for the success of a business. Watch this video to learn more about how Mizik strives to redefine how people look at marketing:

 

About Natalie Mizik: Natalie Mizik, Associate Professor of Marketing, has been with the Foster School of Business for two years. Prior to Foster, Mizik taught at Columbia Graduate School of Business, MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC. Her current research focuses on branding, marketing strategy, myopic management, and pharmaceutical marketing. Read more about Mizik and her road to academia here.

Mizik will kick-off her third year teaching in the TMMBA Program this Summer Quarter. In her short time with the TMMBA Program, Mizik has already received numerous teaching awards – TMMBA Faculty of the Quarter (Class 12 & 13) and TMMBA Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award (Class 12 & 13). A student favorite to say the least!

Success @ the Buerk Center Biz Plan Competition

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

Congrats to TMMBA students who showed off their entrepreneurial skills at yesterday’s  Buerk Center Business Plan Competition (BPC) “Sweet 16” Round – TMMBA had representation on two of the 16 teams:

IonoMetal Technologies (TMMBA Student: Pritam Das)
With its revolutionary patented technology and demonstrated tool, Ionometals will not only make the earth a better place to live by reducing landfill of semiconductor waste, but also help save approximately $0.5MM for every semiconductor testing company.

Spectral DNA (TMMBA Students: Michael Franklin, Bryan Kessler, MJ Pattanshetti and Tyler Sims)
Spectral DNA’s goal is to deliver a conformable solar fabric that can be fully integrated into a multi-use model for ubiquitous power generation. We aim to micro-design these 3D conformable fabrics into clothing, and other needed uses and applications for ubiquitous power. This can be used as a mobile power generation house without connecting to wires.

Both teams represented TMMBA well with their polished presentations and innovative business ideas. Furthermore, the IonoMetal Technologies team took home the “Best Clean Tech Idea” and $2500 prize.

Yesterday’s round  was the culmination of months of hard work and dedication for the teams. The competition formally began in early April with over 92 submissions and over time whittled down to the best of the best at yesterday’s Sweet 16 – all vying for the ultimate grand prize of $25,000.

Year after year, the Buerk Center BPC is a focal event for many of our TMMBA students. The competition allows them the great opportunity to put the skills they’ve gained in the classroom to the test – from developing business plans to honing their pitching and presentation skills. The competition also grants teams unique access to the thriving Seattle start-up community (VCs, angel investors, and more!).

Way to go teams IonoMetal Technologies and Spectral DNA! Also, a special call-out to team Zetection (with TMMBA student Anna Gall) who advanced to the earlier Investment Round of the competition.

Check out a few photos from the competition (Investment Round on April 29):

 ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????     Spectral DNA @ the Investment Round

Interested in learning more?
Read about past TMMBA successes at the BPC
Click here for full results of the 2014 BPC

 

Xin Chào from Vietnam!

Mikaela Houck, Assistant Director

I’m currently writing this post from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where 22 Class 13 students have just kicked off their 10-day International Study Tour experience. Jet lag didn’t hold anyone back as we hit the ground running and began to explore this great city and all it has to offer.

Our first day of the tour acted as a great way for everyone to get our bearings – we started the day with a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City and explored the Presidential Palace and some beautiful French colonial buildings including the Notre Dame cathedral and city post office.

For the afternoon, we ventured out to the Mekong Delta and meandered through a maze of waterways. We had a couple stops along the way where we enjoyed local fruits and tea, music, and encountered a python (yes – I said a python). And a few folks were even brave enough to snap a few pictures with it. I was not one of them!

We capped the day with a celebratory welcome dinner to mark the beginning of an exciting tour to come. From a dynamic group of company visits that includes industries as such banking, technology, automotive, logistics, tax and inward investment, and market research and media (Ford, Cisco and Citi Bank to name a few companies) to unforgettable cultural experiences and phenomenal Vietnamese cuisine – the next 10-day will surely be a whirlwind that will not disappoint.

IST medium

 

About the TMMBA International Study Tour:
The International Study Tour experience is an optional tour for TMMBA students that occurs in the second year of study and gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in a different cultural and business context than the one in which we all typically operate day-to-day.  Students who partake in the tour have the opportunity to visit companies, tour manufacturing facilities, and meet business leaders and government officials. Click here to view blog posts from past Study Tour experiences.

TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 7

Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

Hello and welcome back for the last episode of a week in my life as a TMMBA student. I hope you were able to get a feeling of what’s it like to be a part time student here at UW. The courses are great, with really good study cases and great faculty. The program is well thought to help you optimize your time as much as possible so you can still have some free time to enjoy life, after working and studying. As I was saying in Day 1, I just started but I already feel like I’ve learned a whole lot and I had great experiences here, so far.

But let’s get back to our topic, which is how a usual Sunday looks like in my schedule these days. Sunday is your free day. Sure, you still take a few hours to study like most of the days, but in my (new) understanding free means that you have the chance to make your own schedule. No obligations, no places to be at, no fixed schedule for the entire day.

Today I woke up at 10 am – finally, a day to sleep in late! At least Sundays did not betray me like Saturdays did. Sundays are still mine. Got a coffee, studied for a few hours in the morning. Then a miracle happened – sun came out – so in the afternoon I went out to get some air. Spent again most of my day in the yard, doing stuff around the house. In the evening I got some friends over and now – after 10 – I plan to watch a movie.

On a usual Sunday, I’d probably spend a few extra hours to study more in the evening, from 7 to 10 or so. But this time is better, as we’re already done with most classes for the quarter and all we have left is the final exams – which reminds me, the Micro exam was published yesterday and is due on Thursday. I’ll probably have to sacrifice my evenings during next week since I didn’t spend any time on it today. But it was worth it – you don’t see the sun that often these days here in Seattle :)

Anyway, the weekend is almost over. In a few hours, I’ll start the week all over again with Day 1, getting closer and closer to my goal: to finish the MBA. One quarter down, 5 left to come.

Thank you for taking the time to read my stories, I hope they inspired you. Maybe we’ll get the chance to meet in person in a few years, at alumni gatherings. That will be cool.

Cheers and good luck!
Radu

TMMBA Week in the Life: Radu Mocanita, Day 6

Radu Mocanita, TMMBA Student, Class of 2015

Wait, what?! Wake up on a Saturday morning at 7 am when it’s 25F outside and go to school? Really? That’s something I asked myself 6 times in the past 3 months. But not this weekend, this weekend I am off duty. Well, kind off, because I just spent 6 hours on the Stats exam. It wasn’t that bad after all, I think you can do it in far less than that if you’re better prepared.

The good part is that it was the crappy Seattle weather in full effect today, so at least I am not sorry about spending all day indoor. If it continues tomorrow – which I think it will – I’ll take time to do the Micro exam as well and then be free for the rest of next week.

But let me tell you how a school Saturday looks like. As I was saying, wake up at 7:30-ish and jump in the car with no breakfast. They provide breakfast there so you’ll eat with the classmates. We don’t socialize that much because we are all still sleeping at that time so luckily they also provide coffee. Lots of it! I definitely need it for 8 straight hours of school as I haven’t done that since my undergrad, a couple of years ago. After a few breaks and lunch, finally 4 30 comes and we’re out the door. Usually I keep the rest of the Saturday for fun, going out, watching a movie. If it’s sunny outside, go outdoor, have some fun, live a little.

Sometimes it’s challenging, I tell to myself when I think about the commitment I made. However, looking back at the quarter now, I realize that this program is really well thought: it is much easier to get into the right mind set now, in the winter, when you don’t have much to do, compared to all the temptations in the summer. It can be difficult at times, but you know you do this so you can live a little better in 18 months. It’ll happen, you’ll see.

Radu

- Students, staff and a few alumni blog about the experience of earning an MBA via the University of Washington Foster School of Business Technology Management MBA Program, covering events, learning-in-action, life after graduation, networking opportunities, and so much more.